New $7-million fund will give first nations groups money to own run-of-river projects, writes energy reporter Scott Simpson in the Vancouver Sun.

British Columbia aboriginals are ratcheting up their support for independent power projects.

A new $7-million “First Nation Regeneration Fund” announced Tuesday will give aboriginal groups access to capital to participate as co-owners in run-of-river power projects, proponents say.

Two aboriginal capital corporations, Ecotrust Canada and the federal government have all kicked in the money — which David Lantin, chief operating officer of Tribal Resources Investment Corporation (Tricorp), said will enable “four or five” first nations to borrow money to take an equity share in power projects in their communities.

First nations have struggled to ramp up their participation in power development, largely due to difficulty accessing capital — a situation aggravated by the recent global economic meltdown.